Techdirt

by Lowestofthekeys




Lowestofthekeys' Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the hollywood-run-amuck dept

Reading through the menagerie of Techdirt posts this week led me to develop a better understanding of how some of these media companies work as well as to increase my disdain for Hollywood and their view of the consumer.

First up, we have the article regarding HBO's lack of foresight:

It's awesome to run a business; I don't attempt to run a business because pop music already gives me high blood pressure. I do understand certain fundamentals though, like planning for the long-term. HBO apparently doesn't understand this, and as bob so brilliantly brought out (Black Swan wins again!), the industry has set itself up into a position where it has to maintain revenues at a specific level or it will collapse. Because of this, the consumer suffers because HBO expects us to adapt to their needs.

Second, we have the article about Disney's presentation on copyright and creativity:

The pattern of shortsightedness continues, though here we have a company that built itself on two things: copyright and public domain, but seems to be very focused on the copyright aspect. I haven't seen the presentation, but if I were the gambling type, I'd place my bets on the fact that it will be geared towards stronger copyright law and it's relation to creativity. If this proves true, then it just adds insult to injury with Disney's already stellar record of denying the public domain, and by extension creators everywhere, the content it needs.

My third favorite was Zach Knight's (vampire detective?) article on focusing on why people don't buy:

To me, this article focuses on two things: foresight and analysis. These two aspects are key to marketing effectively, but yet Hollywood is focused on preventing stage six, which basically means their time and effort is spent trying to prevent people from taking things for free instead of nipping the process in the bud by seeing what they can change earlier on to make people want to buy. Frankly, the latter seems like it has a more sustainable, long-term effect while the former just sustains the current model. This is, once again, an example of why Steve Jobs was an awesome businessman, and Hollywood is a terrible child.


Reader Comments

The First Word

To your question: "Why under the same system 30 years ago did we not see piracy as an option?", I have to say... you're very, very wrong. Unlike you, I was actually alive & sentient 30 years ago (I assume you're a young'un?) and we didn't have the concept of "piracy" as a definition for sharing media because everyone was free to do as they pleased without these insane and hyper-controlling laws that are being passed, as long as no money changed hands. It seemed like life was a lot freer back then, with many fewer draconian rules. The people who are passing these laws seem to be incredibly rich people who are using their great wealth to get even more incredibly rich, and there doesn't seem to be a lot of sense in their behavior. Are they making all this extra "lost sale" money in order to spend it on politicians and more draconian laws, only to drive away their customers?

When I was a pre-teen, we taped songs off of the radio with our parents' tape recorders. When I was a little older, my friends and I used to borrow our older brothers & sisters' LPs to make mixtapes of our favorite songs. I had an Aiwa stereo set up where you could play a record and tape it at the same time, and the sound was perfect! So my friends would come over and make their mixtapes and I'd get to pick all the songs I liked to make my own. Everyone all across the nation did this, "mixtapes" are referred to in several rock songs of the 60s and 70s and everyone knew what they were and made them. Once we got older & got jobs, we spent lots of money going to music shows and all of us amassed huge record, then CD, collections. So I've personally paid for a lot of music twice. I have boxes & boxes of CDs and it was a real pain to rip them, but I did rather than pay a third time.

I discovered a small band called Grey Eye Glances by downloading their songs for free on Napster (just before it was shut down) and then went to more than a dozen of their live shows over the years, bought every CD they had as well as their book of lyrics (sold by the band directly to me), and introduced about six or eight people to their work, who also went on to buy their CDs. Several of the people I intro'd to GEG used their music for artistic music vids (a gray area in the law, but it'll get you yanked from youtube) and introduced a lot of new people to their songs.

Nobody called it piracy back then unless money changed hands, like the guys on street corners in NYC who sold bootleg media; "piracy" is a pejorative term that was only recently modified to include freebie copying with no money changing hands. Seriously, once upon a time, piracy only meant the guys who made money on bootleg, not people who shared! I remember reading that the Russian mob made millions selling bootleg tapes, CDs and DVDs to people on the streets in cities up & down the east coast. They don't anymore because no one pays for downloads, so there's no market for their bootleg physical media anymore. Sharing stopped piracy.

With regard to movies & TV shows, everyone I knew under the age of 30 had tape-to-tape VHS set ups so that we could dub videotapes of our fav shows for one another. (This is why I still have WKRP in Cincinatti with its original music.) In the case of non-USA shows that didn't make it to the US (like Dr. Who did), we'd have friends in England photograph directly off of TV to make tapes of The Professionals, Blake's 7, etc. for us. Blakes 7 eventually made it to PBS (and they're currently filming a reboot) because we made terrible-looking, over-copied VHS tapes for one another and did PR for the show by mailing them around. I doubt the people who own Blakes 7 would be doing a reboot without our so-called "piracy" in the 80s, because they have an eye on the US market now that they've seen how popular rebooted Dr. Who is over here. We figured out ways to get impossible-to-buy British tapes because they were made in England in PAL, which did not work with our NTSC players--a workaround for the dreaded "Region" mode of controlling sales! Currently, we all own cheap region-free DVD players that also have USB ports... and huge DVD collections! People who share media demonstrably have the largest purchased collections of media.

We also duplicated a lot of Japanese animation and passed it around in the late 70s & 80s, as it was both terribly expensive and impossible to find even if you did find it in the odd Japanese book store, or had it shipped from Japan. I had a friend whose brother was stationed in Japan and he was a major source of shows for about 100 to 200 people as he'd mail tapes out to his sister and we'd duplicate tapes for it seems like everyone on the North American continent. With what would now be called "piracy", we created the US market that helped the people who make anime sell it over here.

Also, you could say that libraries are piracy: many read the same book with only the one sale made to the publishing houses that sell books. There have been a number of people throughout history who have not supported libraries and tried to close them down for this reason, despite the fact that they are great equalizers for education for less advantaged people. We've been conditioned to think of libraries as beneficial to society, but it's really just institutionalized piracy!

YMMV! But that's a good 40 years of so-called "piracy" right there from someone who lived it.
—Anonymous Coward

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2012 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Almost, but not quite

    I wonder if infringement doesn't void the limitations on exclusivity.

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